With the final races of this season now complete, which British drivers are the heroes of 2009 – and which have been a bit less fortunate?
The Brits on Pole All-Star League compares the performances of 43 British drivers in 12 different championships world-wide by factoring in length of season, strength of opposition and finishing position.
This year’s standings included drivers from all around the UK, from fresh-faced rookies to grizzled veterans – of whom, all but five broke their All-Star duck by recording a point-scoring top-eight race finish.
The top positions were decided a few weeks ago with Scot Dario Franchitti’s victorious IndyCar season for Target Chip Ganassi Racing providing the highest-scoring 2009 performance.
F1 World Champion Jenson Button’s safety-first approach to the second half of the F1 season meant he kept a tight grip on the world championship for his Brawn GP team – but only scored enough top-eight finishes for the All-Star League runner-up spot.
A surprise third came in the form of 20-year-old Adam Christodoulou, the victor in this year’s Star Mazda junior formula in the US as well as a BRDC young driver finalist for the second year.
Christodoulou’s storming season put him ahead of outgoing F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton who nevertheless, with the much-improved second half to his year with McLaren, came fourth after a very rapid climb through the standings.
The final order was hanging on Superleague Formula’s Craig Dolby, in action last weekend in his final races of the season in the Tottenham Hotspur car, and in with a mathematical chance of grabbing fourth off Hamilton.
Craig put in a storming drive to post the best two-race performance of any Superleague driver that weekend – but he fell just short of the double podium he needed to overhaul the 2008 Formula One world champion.
Rounding out the top 10 were Alexander Sims, Richard Kent, Max Chilton, Oliver Turvey and Sam Bird. At the other end of the table Greg Mansell competed 16 times without a top eight finish and so propped up the standings.
Of the other US-based Britons, Star Mazda’s Kent took seventh place, IndyCar rivals Justin Wilson and Dan Wheldon were 13th and 14th, the Atlantic Championship’s James Winslow was 17th and IRL driver Mike Conway was 19th. The best finisher from Indy Lights was Martin Plowman in 20th.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
Brits on Pole is a news site covering British drivers in all major forms of open-wheel motor racing worldwide. We’re here to remember the legends and cheer on the Brits in F1, GP2, A1GP, IndyCar and many more series. Brits on Pole is powered by Onlineability and you can visit it here or on Twitter.
Comparing drivers in different series is difficult for a number of reasons – factors such as length of season, strength of opposition and how many points to award all had to be taken into account. Here’s what we did:
- Championships: We decided to include as many open-wheel, international championships as possible, so long as they were broadly summer-based, and pitted driver against driver. This excluded A1GP, since it was a winter team series.
- Points: These had to be equalised, as different series have different policies. One points system produces much the same outcome as any other over a full season, so we chose to apply the F1 system of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 for top-eight finishes then nothing for 9th place and below.
- Season length: Season lengths vary wildly. And this means that some drivers have many more opportunities to pile up points than others. To address this we used a 17-race season as a base, since this is what both F1 and the IRL ran in 2009, and worked out a coefficient by which to multiply the points in other series so that, across a full season, everyone had the opportunity to earn the same number of points if they won every race.
- Competition: We grouped the series into three bands: the two senior championships of F1 and the IRL, the feeder series of GP2, Indy Lights, F2 and the Atlantics, and the development series. Senior points counted full, feeder series points counted at two-thirds value, and development championships counted half.
- Tiebreaks: We used the number of races competed in, working on the basis that it is a sign of a stronger performance to take fewer races than a rival to reach the same points score. Conversely, the more races run without scoring a point the worse the overall performance. Where this also results in a tie, we use dthe strength of the series in which the driver was competing.